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Russert: Alito's Job in Hearings: Don't "Come Across as a Zealot" --1/9/2006


1. Russert: Alito's Job in Hearings: Don't "Come Across as a Zealot"
Suggesting Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito could be seen as an unqualified extremist, on Monday's Today show NBC's Tim Russert twice proposed that his job in the hearings, which started a few hours later, was to not come across as a "zealot." Russert contended: "If he has a good, strong, solid performance where he comes across as a conservative judge with good temperament he's confirmed. If he comes across as a conservative, political zealot he's in trouble." Russert soon repeated his point: "The question is, is this a conservative judge or a conservative zealot? That's what the hearings will show."

2. CBS's Assuras Suggests GOP in a "Panic" Over DeLay and Abramoff
GOP in "panic"? Hours after Tom DeLay on Saturday announced his decision to not seek reinstatement as House Majority Leader, CBS Evening News anchor Thalia Assuras asked reporter Gloria Borger: "So is there panic in the Republican Party?" Borger, who in her preceding lead story had described DeLay as "a brash, often uncompromising conservative," affirmed the thesis forwarded by Assuras: "I would have to say there is some panic, an awful lot of nervousness in the aftermath of this Jack Abramoff scandal..."

3. ABC and CBS Friday Night: Good News on Unemployment, But...
Good news on unemployment, but... ABC and CBS on Friday night added a negative spin to more than two million jobs created during 2005 and the unemployment rate falling to 4.9 percent. "The government had some good news about the nation's job market today," CBS anchor Bob Schieffer announced as he noted "a slight dip in the unemployment rate to 4.9 percent" while "the economy created more than 100,000 new jobs." But then came the but: "But many people are discovering that those new jobs do not come with everything they used to." Anthony Mason looked at a company which is hiring, before he fretted about how "the jobs you find aren't likely to come with the benefits workers have taken for granted," such as a pension. Over on ABC, anchor Elizabeth Vargas relayed how "unemployment fell to under five percent last month. The government said today that 108,000 new jobs were added to the economy in December, fewer than analysts expected." She did point out how "two million new jobs were added in 2005," but then added her but about IBM: "Even with the solid economic growth, another huge American corporation is poised to phase out pension plans for its employees."

4. Rooney Pleased by DeLay's Ouster, Says Eavesdropping a "Disgrace"
Tom DeLay's ouster from the House leadership is the "one good thing that's come out" of the Abramoff scandal, CBS's Andy Rooney declared Friday night during a live appearance on CNN's Larry King Live. Asked by King about "the tapping of phones in the interest of national security," Rooney called it "a disgrace, an absolute disgrace. And how the President has convinced himself or how the Vice President has convinced the President that this is a good thing to do, in the interests of American security, it's a disgrace." But when King suggested that "you think it's despots that do that in times of," before King got to the word "war," Rooney rejected King's characterization of Bush: "Yes, they certainly do. I'm not willing to call President Bush a despot." Rooney went on to regret how Bush gets bad information: "I don't know where he gets his information, but I don't think it's very good."


Russert: Alito's Job in Hearings: Don't
"Come Across as a Zealot"

Suggesting Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito could be seen as an unqualified extremist, on Monday's Today show NBC's Tim Russert twice proposed that his job in the hearings, which started a few hours later, was to not come across as a "zealot." Russert contended: "If he has a good, strong, solid performance where he comes across as a conservative judge with good temperament he's confirmed. If he comes across as a conservative, political zealot he's in trouble." Russert soon repeated his point: "The question is, is this a conservative judge or a conservative zealot? That's what the hearings will show."

The MRC's Geoff Dickens caught the exchange, in the 7am half hour of the January 9 Today, between Katie Couric in Manhattan and Russert in Washington, DC:

Couric: "Do you think there's gonna be a filibuster Tim?"
Russert: "I don't think so unless his appearance and presentation before the committee is a disaster. Right now, Katie there are enough votes to confirm Judge Alito based on my conversations with Democrat and Republican senators but it's up to him. This is his nomination to lose. If he has a good, strong, solid performance where he comes across as a conservative judge with good temperament he's confirmed. If he comes across as a conservative, political zealot he's in trouble."
Couric: "And he has a pretty significant paper trail right?"
Russert: "Absolutely. He's been an appellate judge for some time as you wrote about and talked about. He applied to jobs in the Reagan administration, very extensive job applications. People have a pretty good sense of his philosophy. Republicans say, 'Well Bill Clinton put liberal judges on the bench why can't George Bush put conservatives on the bench.' The question is, is this a conservative judge or a conservative zealot? That's what the hearings will show."

CBS's Assuras Suggests GOP in a "Panic"
Over DeLay and Abramoff

GOP in "panic"? Hours after Tom DeLay on Saturday announced his decision to not seek reinstatement as House Majority Leader, CBS Evening News anchor Thalia Assuras asked reporter Gloria Borger: "So is there panic in the Republican Party?" Borger, who in her preceding lead story had described DeLay as "a brash, often uncompromising conservative," affirmed the thesis forwarded by Assuras: "I would have to say there is some panic, an awful lot of nervousness in the aftermath of this Jack Abramoff scandal..."

On the January 7 CBS Evening News, after Borger's lead story on DeLay's decision, Assuras asked: "So is there panic in the Republican Party?"
Borger, from Washington, DC, answered: "I would have to say there is some panic, an awful lot of nervousness in the aftermath of this Jack Abramoff scandal. While Jack Abramoff gave money to both Republicans and Democrats, he gave more money to Republicans. House Republicans are worried that the public will blame them. They need to get ahead with the reform agenda and they felt that Tom DeLay was certainly not the man to lead them on that issue, Thalia."

ABC and CBS Friday Night: Good News on
Unemployment, But...

Good news on unemployment, but.... ABC and CBS on Friday night added a negative spin to more than two million jobs created during 2005 and the unemployment rate falling to 4.9 percent. "The government had some good news about the nation's job market today," CBS anchor Bob Schieffer announced as he noted "a slight dip in the unemployment rate to 4.9 percent" while "the economy created more than 100,000 new jobs." But then came the but: "But many people are discovering that those new jobs do not come with everything they used to." Anthony Mason looked at a company which is hiring, before he fretted about how "the jobs you find aren't likely to come with the benefits workers have taken for granted," such as a pension. Over on ABC, anchor Elizabeth Vargas relayed how "unemployment fell to under five percent last month. The government said today that 108,000 new jobs were added to the economy in December, fewer than analysts expected." She did point out how "two million new jobs were added in 2005," but then added her but about IBM: "Even with the solid economic growth, another huge American corporation is poised to phase out pension plans for its employees."

Neither network reported how the November and October job growth numbers were revised upward by a combined 71,000.

Schieffer set up the January 6 CBS Evening News story, as corrected, by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, against the closed-captioning:
"The government had some good news about the nation's job market today. It is still growing. That is reflected in a slight dip in the unemployment rate to 4.9 percent in December. At the same time, the economy created more than 100,000 new jobs. But many people are discovering that those new jobs do not come with everything they used to. Here's Anthony Mason."

Anthony Mason began: "The help wanted signs went up last month. The U.S. economy is looking for workers again."
Michael Torto, Centive: "As a matter of fact, we have new hire orientation going on now."
Mason: "The Centive company outside of Boston has hired seven new workers in just the past two weeks. Centive sells software that calculates sales commissions for companies. CEO Michael Torto says his business is up 65 percent since October."
Torto: "It's because people are hiring, and hiring across all industries. So, as a result, we have to hire more people to be able to support our software and our services."
Mason: "Overall the economy added more than 400,000 jobs in November and December. Touring the Chicago Board of Trade today, the President was crowing about those numbers."
George W. Bush, in Friday speech: "In 2005 the American economy turned in a performance that is the envy of the industrialized world."
Mason: "But the jobs you find aren't likely to come with the benefits workers have taken for granted. IBM, which funds the country's third largest corporate pension plan, is the latest major company to freeze pension benefits for its U.S. employees. Big Blue will offer them only a 401(k) plan after 2008. While the President said today-"
Bush: "We've got to have a private pension system that is fully funded."
Mason: "-in the highly competitive global economy, says economist Bill Cheney-"
Bill Cheney, chief economist, John Hancock: "There's no guarantee that the job you're in is going to last or even that the employer is going to survive."
Mason concluded: "IBM says it can't afford the huge pension costs that most of its competitors don't have to pay. They're not alone. More than 70 major companies have recently frozen or abolished their pension plans."

On Friday's World News Tonight, ABC's Elizabeth Vargas read this short item: "In economic news, unemployment fell to under 5 percent last month. The government said today that 108,000 new jobs were added to the economy in December, fewer than analysts expected. Overall, 2 million new jobs were added in 2005, despite higher oil prices and the devastating hurricanes. Even with the solid economic growth, another huge American corporation is poised to phase out pension plans for its employees. IBM announced that in 2008 it will shift 117,000 workers from traditional pension plans to 401(k) retirement plans. The move is part of a growing trend by financially healthy companies to save money by eliminating lifetime pensions for worker."

Rooney Pleased by DeLay's Ouster, Says
Eavesdropping a "Disgrace"

Tom DeLay's ouster from the House leadership is the "one good thing that's come out" of the Abramoff scandal, CBS's Andy Rooney declared Friday night during a live appearance on CNN's Larry King Live. Asked by King about "the tapping of phones in the interest of national security," Rooney called it "a disgrace, an absolute disgrace. And how the President has convinced himself or how the Vice President has convinced the President that this is a good thing to do, in the interests of American security, it's a disgrace." But when King suggested that "you think it's despots that do that in times of," before King got to the word "war," Rooney rejected King's characterization of Bush: "Yes, they certainly do. I'm not willing to call President Bush a despot." Rooney went on to regret how Bush gets bad information: "I don't know where he gets his information, but I don't think it's very good."

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth took down some of Rooney's comment on the January 6 Larry King Live:

# Larry King: "Scandals, Abramoff. What do you make, is this going to expand?"
Andy Rooney: "It looks wonderful. I mean, for anybody in the news business, this is the best thing that's happened in a long while, it looks as though."


# King: "Do you think Tom DeLay got his comeuppance here?"
Rooney: "I think he's getting it, yeah. That's one good thing that's come out of it. He's apparently done."


# "What are your thoughts on the war?"
Rooney: "Well, I have some opinions that are unpopular, even with me. I mean, I don't like having the opinion that we should not pull out. But it is my opinion that we should not pull out. It was wrong for us to go in, but it would be wrong for us to pull out. For one thing, there are too many of them there who have supported us who are decent people who would be slaughtered if we pulled out. That would be wrong."
King: "Where then do you think it goes?"
Rooney: "Nowhere good. I don't know. I certainly have no idea where it goes. Every once in a while you see something going one way or another. It looks hopeful for a while, but there's nothing hopeful there. I don't know what's going to happen. It seems like, every once in a while you see somebody from there, and they seem just so normal and so average. You see them shopping, and, my goodness, you know, you think of them as some strange creatures from another world, but they're a lot like Americans in a lot of ways."
King: "What do you make of the tapping of phones in the interest of national security?"
Rooney: "Well, I think it's a disgrace, an absolute disgrace. And how the President has convinced himself or how the Vice President has convinced the President that this is a good thing to do, in the interests of American security, it's a disgrace."
King: "Because of personal liberty? But what about-?"
Rooney: "But we have to be so careful about that. Our whole country was built on the idea that we are free from that kind of government. I mean, it is seriously wrong what's happening in Washington and how they're forcing it down out throats, I don't know. And I hear people on the radio, today I heard somebody defending it, saying, well, we're in a time of crisis here, and we've got to protect ourselves. That's not the way to protect ourselves."
King: "You think it's despots that do that in times of-
Rooney: "Yes, they certainly do. I'm not willing to call President Bush a despot."
King backtracked: "Bush is sincere. He believes that one of the ways to stop terrorism is to learn of it in advance."
Rooney: "I think to say the President is sincere is probably true. But there are some other things that follow right on top of that make you wonder. I mean, how, where is he getting his information? On what basis does he base -- does he put his sincerity? Why does he think as he does? I don't know where he gets his information, but I don't think it's very good."

-- Brent Baker